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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The W. M. Keck Center: Language Study and Beyond

The W. M. Keck Center: Language Study and Beyond
Colgate University

The W.M. Keck Center for Language Study not only offers ample resources for learning a new language, but is also a high-tech space in which students can immerse themselves in new cultures and broaden their global perspectives. 

Cory Duclos, director of the Keck Center and senior lecturer in the linguistics program, plays an active role in this space on campus. He offered his insight on why the Keck Center, which provides a physical space dedicated to learning new languages, is so valuable.

“[The Keck Center is] a place where people can feel safe to extend themselves while trying out a new language and celebrate the ways that education is enhanced with increased knowledge of world cultures […] Learning a new language involves much more than just the technical aspects of mastering grammar concepts,” Duclos explained. 

This approach to language study enriches students both linguistically and culturally. Duclos emphasized how this immersive, dualistic approach is significant beyond just educational purposes. 

“Language learning makes other cultures a subject of study,” Duclos said, “which recognizes the autonomy of people with those cultures and pushes back against a tendency in our education system to treat others as objects of study viewed almost entirely from the outside.”

The Keck Center extends beyond language learning, however. Duclos also spoke to the various programs and events they offer.

At the Keck Center, our language interns host a variety of cultural events,” Duclos explained. “This fall, for example, we’ll have an open house where we will likely turn the Keck Center into the [ˈkeɪk] Center (that’s the phonetic spelling for ‘cake’). Our interns will make cakes from around the world for people to try and get to know the Keck Center.” 

The Keck Center offers more than just assistance in educational pursuits, as Duclos and the language interns play an active role both in the Colgate University community and beyond.

“We offer a variety of other opportunities for students to engage in language study beyond the classroom,” Duclos explained. “For example, we host our Less Commonly Taught Languages program for students to learn a language that isn’t already being taught at Colgate. We also collaborate with the Upstate Institute to run a program where students teach Spanish, Arabic, German and Chinese to kids at the Hamilton Central elementary school.”

Keck Center language interns are hired by their specific departments. Duclos explained that language interns for the Russian and Chinese departments are chosen as a part of the Fulbright Scholars Program, a U.S. State Department program that promotes cultural exchanges around the world. 

Duclos also revealed another way the Keck Center offers a sense of community, as he described how students and interns are able to bond with each other. 

“Other interns are hired by the universities where Colgate hosts study groups,” Duclos said. “This is always fun because when students go on study groups, they can visit our past interns and know they’ll have a friend to show them around a new city.” 

Those who work at the Keck Center strive to create a supportive, inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all students. Duclos’ encouraging assertion speaks to such sentiments. 

“[They] want people to feel safe and supported because learning a new language can be a daunting experience where you’re asked to feel vulnerable as you grow and extend yourself,” Duclos explained.

From offering engaging events to providing a safe learning environment, the Keck Center provides a culturally rich approach for learning new languages. This space also encourages students to think about languages that could be helpful for future pursuits, and aids students in applying for funding sources and summer language programs. This extensive resource for language study can be found in the basement of Lawrence Hall, where all are welcome.

Sophomore Eloise Eason appreciates the comfortable and welcoming atmosphere in the center.

“I […] often use the Keck Center as a quiet place to study or do research… or even take tests and quizzes,” Eason said. “It’s a wonderful area and the perfect space for a study session right after class in Lawrence.”

To learn more about Keck Center events, visit their page on the Colgate University website and subscribe to their mailing list.

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